SCC baseball targets elusive championship trophy

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, March 28, 2018

LAPLACE — With eight runner-up trophies sitting in a case at St. Charles Catholic High School, the Comets baseball team is hungry for a long awaited state championship.

Coming into the week with a 14-5 record, 2-0 in District amidst a tough schedule, the Comets have proved they have the talent it takes to swing their way to the top of the playoffs.

Comets first baseman Riley Loupe gets ready on defense during Friday’s game.

Head coach Wayne Stein said the road to success follows a simple checklist: Win at least 20 games, gain home field advantage in the playoffs and secure a spot in the state tournament.

“The goal is always the same,” Stein said. “The goal is nothing short of a state championship.”

With larger schools and powerful teams such as De La Salle, Parkview Baptist and University High vying for the same title, the Comets have their work cut out for them.

Kaile Levantino gets ready to hit.

“Our division is wide open with 10 to 12 really good teams who have a chance to win the championship if they hit right,” Stein said. “We have a lot of challenges ahead of us. All it takes is one slip up, and you’re going home.”

During practice, the team is focused on bunting, running and holding onto leads with strong finishes to tight games.

Finishing is especially important since four of the team’s five losses were by two runs or less, and three of the losses occurred in the bottom of the seventh or eighth innings.

Robby Gilbert gets ready in the field during Friday’s game.

Stein said the team has swung the bats well this season, showing the capability to excel under any challenge.

“If it’s a slugfest, we’ve got to score,” Stein said. “If it’s a tight game, we have to be able to bunt and run. I think we have the talent and the ability to win a lot of different games.”

Hitting has been successful, but strength in pitching has been the team’s strongpoint, Stein said.

“I can’t say that we have one ace because we have a pitching staff of four, five, six guys, and every one of them has pitched well,” Stein said.

He credits the dedicated players who stuck together through most of last summer playing American Legion baseball, an undertaking that led to the championship round.

Summer ball can be a blessing or a curse for student athletes already overwhelmed by other sports, according to Stein. He was impressed to see the squad willingly stick it out through the hot summer months, considering it a sign of camaraderie.

With a large baseball program of 58 players and a 24-man varsity team, players don’t always get the attention they need early on in the season, Stein said.

Seniors Lloyd Nash, Jordan Jensen, Riley Loupe and Nick Roberts have stuck together, positively impacting the season.

The team is junior-laden, Stein said, citing left fielder and pitcher Nick Lorio and shortstop Robby Gilbert, the leading hitter for the team, as instrumental forces.

Sophomore Kaile Levantino, star player in a win against Lutcher, and emerging pitcher Peyton Broussard have also set the offensive tone for the team.

“Expectations are what they are,” Stein said. “You meet them or you raise them. We’re not going to lower them.”

The Comets play a 4 p.m. district game Thursday at Donaldsonville.